The term Robotic Process Automation (RPA in Acronym) has become ubiquitous in the IT world now a days. RPA is a business process automation technology that can be programmed to use the applications the way human workers use an application to complete the work. Any enterprise is mainly made of three types of software applications namely ERP (Enterprise Resources Planning), CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and HRMS (Human Resources Management System). These applications help the enterprises to automate many of the manual tasks done on a day to day basis like Purchase Order, Invoicing, Customer feedbacks, Resources Planning etc. All these applications require humans to login into a specific application on the workstation and do certain routine tasks on the application. RPA helps to mimic the humans by logging into the applications and do the same tasks what the Human does it on a routine basis.
There are three distinct characteristics of RPA software. It emulates the Humans using the application software and does exactly what the humans do on the application software. Secondly it is non-invasive in nature. Lastly it is a virtual space controlled by business operations team in an enterprise. The software is written to mimic Humans after being taught how to do a specific task. The software is usually done to process a high-volume repeatable task. An example of a work where RPA can be used is the Attendance approval. A manager logs into a HRMS application and approves the attendance on a regular basis. This is a repetitive task that can be automated by configuring the RPA to log into the application and mimic the manager who approves the attendance. RPA software operates based on the rules configured to do an operation like Invoice approval, Attendance approval, data extraction, processing of files, maintaining customer data etc. RPA is used in Healthcare, Financial Services, Supply Chain Management etc.
Advantages of RPA:
RPA has all the advantages of automating a repetitive task. This includes error free operation, reduction of cost, improvement of the quality of the work, optimized use of the resources for better tasks, better user experience, improved pace of working and so on. It is easy to configure an application with RPA and it takes few days to train the RPA software to do the operational tasks. RPA is the source of new 4th Industrial revolution Digital Workforce. Many Industries are targeting a section of the workforce to be a Digital workforce effectively reducing the cost of the enterprise. RPA is proving to be a Digital Workforce creator. In general, the ROI on a RPA has been around 800% and most of the enterprises are using the RPA to bolster their profit.
How does the RPA work?
Most of the RPA assumes that the applications use browser as their base to work. These browsers include Chrome, IE, Firefox etc. RPAs work on the browser usually and may or may not work on client applications installed on your workstation. The RPA consists of a software creator interface in other words known as IDE, a Controller known to control the deployments, users etc and an interface to run the software. The IDE helps in creating the RPA software that runs the application, followed by the Controller which has an interface to the IDE for deployment of the software. Typically, the RPA software is known as RPA Bots. Typically, these IDEs for RPA allows you to use multiple programming languages namely Java, Python etc. The IDEs typically are fed with the application screen coordinates of various controls like Text Box, Combo Box on the application and their typical values. The Keystrokes and the data are stored with respect to the screen of the application and executed repeatedly the software in the server. Like Multiple Humans doing a task multiple instances of the Bot can be deployed to carry out the tasks. So, a bot can be designed for a specific set of operations on an application and has to be given the same credentials for logging into the application. Some enterprises have named the RPA as Surface automation.
RPA as Career:
Mckinsey has come out with a study saying that 50% of all the current tasks can be automated. HFS research has mentioned in one of their papers that intelligent process automation is one of the most disruptive development the industry is facing across the world. Organizations are piloting multiple approaches towards automation with no coherent strategy towards one. The current 4th Industrial revolution focusses on automating all repeatable business tasks and enterprises are embarking on the growing as an intelligent enterprise. Currently RPA is applied in the Procurement, Marketing and IT operations and there had been remarkable results in these areas. As intelligent enterprises emerge there are roles in automation becomes available in the enterprises. These roles include RPA Consultant roles, Technical Specialist roles and RPA developer roles. The RPA consultant studies the Business Process and comes out with a strategy to automate the process which includes ROI on automation followed by implementation and the possible quick wins in the Automation areas of an enterprise. The technical specialist role involves the deployment of Automation tools and administering the RPA tools for a seamless execution of business processes. The development role includes software development of automating the Business Processes using RPA tools and deploying the same.
The automation industry has evolved with various tools and to start with the open source selenium tool provides a way of automating many of the screen-based operations tasks. The most popular industry tools include UIPATH, Automation Anywhere and Blue Prism. People who are aspiring to build a career on Automation can start with downloading of selenium and running some example code to automate the tasks. This can be followed by learning a popular tool like UIPATH and build a career around the Automation. Many industries are aiming towards automation to reduce the cost, improve efficiency and deliver better experience for the customers.
Many RPA tool providers are evolving themselves into an intelligent RPA solution provider which effectively means they will use data to take a decision on the workflows. RPA is getting renamed as Cognitive RPA where the machine learning components are added to RPA for a robust intelligent solution. The power of AI and RPA are being exploited by the industry leading to more efficiency based on data intelligence.